What We Learned at Camp – WordCamp, That Is

Enilon has been a WordPress house since 2014 which was, coincidentally, the first time we started attending DFW WordCamp – a two-day intensive that offers a well-rounded buffet of knowledge that addresses the two camps that attend the, well, camp. It is also one of those rare events that set the order of the Metroplex as it should be – it’s held in Fort Worth (no offense to our Dallasite brethren, but you have ALL the events).

What are those camps who attend? Well, there are those that build in WordPress and those that curate content in WordPress. Of course there is some overlap, but by and large, you have developers and you have content creators at WordCamp – all of whom have the common goal of making WordPress work for them – and their clients.

We sent four people to WordCamp this year, our Director of Studio Group Bill Jones, our Senior UX Developer Josh Wright, UX Developer Jason Martinez and Senior Content Strategist Kasey Carpenter. What were some of the things we took away from WordCamp this year? We had several, but here are a couple we really enjoyed:

Establishing Clear Client ExpectationsKori Ashton

This one was near and dear to the hearts of marketers everywhere. While she comes from a self-starter, freelance background, all of us at the agency who attended her session nodded along in agreement as the vast majority of her session was applicable to agencies as well as freelancers. It’s a great story: she attained her goal of being a professional musician, only to find that she was making more money building websites for the venues she was playing at. She understood what she had to do. Along the way, she learned a lot about the importance of the discovery phase, of clearly documenting expectations from clients, and along the way gave us the Best Quote of The Camp:

“That’s a great idea for Phase 2.”

When discussing “scope creep” and how to keep everyone on track with your original estimate and SOW, Kori Ashton gave us this simple answer. To whatever the client (or your team for that matter) is wanting to add, simply say, “That’s a great idea for Phase 2.” Then, of course, add it to a Phase 2 document, and start building that file, then when it’s time to re-up, you already know what to discuss. Sounds simple enough, but this is a Huge Point. Kori also spent an enlightening amount of time explaining how residual income models can be easily maintained (WordPress maintenance anyone?) how they should be required, at least for the first 12 months, and how they become the lifeblood of your freelance career or your agency.

The Goal Is ConversionChris Lema

Another great speaker, who knows how to keep a crowd’s attention, Chris took us back to his door-to-door signature-gathering days working for the California Clean Air Act. Then he ran the gamut from Ogilvy on polls (pollsters tell you what you want to hear) to walking us through some great examples of creating value. His experience with a stand-up class led by Steve Martin via Masterclass was priceless – and underlined the real value, not that you’ll learn to be a seasoned stand-up comedian in an hour, but that you get to feel like you’re having a conversation with Steve Martin. He listed 9 truisms of conversion, which can be viewed here, and are excellent reminders not to get too myopic about your messaging. My personal favorite was #7: Be ridiculous with your money back guarantee. Be insane.

Why is this so important? If you want conversions, you have to be confident. Look at Zappos and their return policy. Nothing says confidence in 1) your offering and 2) your ability to match it to your potential customer than a memorable money back guarantee.

My second favorite was one I *think* I read about before in Heads in Beds – a great read by a former hotel employee that does for hotels what Kitchen Confidential and Waiter Rant did for restaurants – which highlighted the practice the Ritz-Carlton has had for years, where not only do they trust and empower their employees with a $2000 budget to do ANYTHING that makes a guest feel better, but they also collect these stories and share them locally, departmentally, and internationally. What does this have to do with conversion? If you stayed at a Ritz-Carlton and you burned an expensive pair of pants ahead of an important meeting, and your housekeeper took it upon themselves to go out and find the exact brand, color, and size pant, and have it delivered to your room in time for the meeting – would you stay anywhere else? Conversely, if you were that housekeeper, and were entrusted and empowered to make such a difference, would you work anywhere else? What better bridge between guest and hotel is there?

Chris also gave us the Second Best Quote of The Camp:

“If I’m hungry I rarely want a course on how to fish.”

It’s a deceptively simple phrase, but it conveys the mindset that your searchers, your content skimmers, and your answer-seekers are in – and the mindset you need to be in in order to immediately satisfy that need.

Over the course of the weekend there were a ton of things that we took away from WordCamp, some of our favs listed here in no particular order:

  • How to avoid “scope creep” – the silent killer of many a PnL sheet and client relationship – and why discovery is non-negotiable.
  • Adam Fout re-established that good writing is the key to good content and that the days of “fooling” Google with mediocre content and a dusting of keywords are long gone (yay!) He also brought up a point near and dear to my heart: if you hate research, you’re gonna hate writing.
  • Local Pack – There seems to be a decent section of the population that isn’t paying enough attention to the Local Pack and how it informs their SEO strategies.
  • Google My Business – Underutilized, Unclaimed, Until Now! Perhaps even more neglected than the Local Pack, it seems that tons of entities have not claimed their Google My Business listings. No one can think of a good reason not to leverage this SERP-booster, and yet so many people appear to be ignoring it (we’ve got you covered).
  • WordPress & AMP w/ Pratik Ghela – It can be done. And it can be done beautifully. From WashPo (AMP Stories) to significantly smaller endeavors, AMP can play nice with WP, without having to rewrite your entire site (just watch those size limits). Not sure it’s worth exploring? How about ONE SECOND LOAD TIMES. Yup.

Some fun things we found (and some things we were reminded of) during WordCamp:

We had a blast interacting with this tightknit community, a community that not only evangelizes WordPress as the best CMS solution out there but also truly enjoys helping one another, in any way they can. We learned a lot, had a lot of our current methodologies validated, and had some very meaningful discussions with people involved in virtually every aspect of building (and improving) a WordPress site. We’ll definitely be back next year, with a couple of us possibly driving some decks and fielding questions…

Finally, here is your happy-hour colleague-stumper: “What’s the 2nd highest rated search engine?” When they invariably say “Bing” roll your eyes and tell them, no, it’s YouTube.

If you’d like to discuss how to take your existing WordPress site to new heights, or you are curious about building a site from scratch and want to know why WordPress can be the solution you are looking for, drop us a line – we’re always listening.

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